Kaka'ako is an area of downtown Honolulu near the Ala Moana Centre between the hustle and bustle of Waikiki and Downtown Honolulu. There you'll find a wonderful local farmers market on Saturday, a range of street art and food trucks in this vibrant up and coming area.
During ancient times Kaka'ako was home to salt flats, fishponds and fishing villages but this area has been rapidly developing. Think art galleries, boutiques, breweries, artisans mixed with light industrial warehouses. It is 9:30am on a Saturday when I meet food writer and friend Melissa Chang, who is showing me around the Kaka'ako Farmers Market. "This is really, REALLY quiet," she said looking around in wonder. The Made in Hawaii food festival is on at the same time and while the waterfront markets would normally be heaving, it's much more spaced out today.
The markets are divided across two areas and are mainly food and crafts - food mostly on the oceanside section and crafts on land side. Although it is early I can't resist the lure of Izu mochi and a small crowd has formed in front of the stand. They sell mochi filled with classic fillings like azuki and strawberry but it's the Hawaiian flavours like Okinawan sweet potato and macadamia coconut that garners my interest. I sink my teeth into one and they're so soft, puffy and delicious and not too sweet combining a fresh mochi with Hawaiian flavours.
There are many stands for ready made meals but as we are going out to brunch we don't want to eat too much so I grab an iced coffee from Grok coffee and wander around. A popular stand is the Akaka Farm stand that sells a range of preserves, butters and honeys using produce from their pesticide free farm. The poi coconut butter is delicious and deserving of the accolades as is the black chocolate butter, a silky, luxe ganache spread or sauce. I also buy some passion fruit and habanero jelly with ideas for a Christmas ham.
If you see a lot of people with cameras, Kakaako is also a very popular selfie destination. Look for the Office Max building and the surrounding streets have a range of murals done by the Pow Wow collective of artists. There's a mural to suit every mood.
If you're feeling peckish there's SALT at Our Kaka'ako a collection of shops and restaurants. It's here that the much loved Highway Inn has a second store. The first one is in Waipahu on the Farrington Highway but in 2013 they opened up a town location here. At Highway Inn you can try traditional Hawaiian favourites like squid luau, kalua pig, lau lau and chicken long rice. We had our Highway Inn visit another day so we wandered the streets and then came back at night.
We are looking for spicy food and after 10 straight days of eating poke we were a little poke'd out. We make a beeline for Elephant Shack food truck. At the time of our visit it was located down a fairly busy alleyway just opposite a popular brewery but they tell us that they are about to move nearer to the water.
To order just walk up to the iPad and place your order and pay there and they'll call out when your food is ready. We needed spice so we ordered a papaya salad and Pad See Ew with "spicy" level (not Thai spicy because that might maim Mr NQN). They both hit the spot in a resounding way, when you're brought back home in your soul and re-centered so that you're ready to hit the streets to eat again. To look for more food of course!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you often visit Farmer's Markets when on holidays? What is the food that you most often crave when you're away from home?
All food in this post was independently paid for. NQN was a guest of Hawaii Tourism Oceania and flew to Hawaii as a guest of Hawaiian Airlines but all opinions remain her own.
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